Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sometimes fertility treatments are embarrassing

Warning: If you're easily embarrassed, you might want to skip this one. 

I embarrass myself a lot. Like when I drew a pornographic sketch for Jack on the steamed up shower glass and later realized it was still visible when the cleaning lady came that day. Or that time I was interviewing a Caps player and realized that a teammate’s sweaty jock hanging in an adjacent locker was dripping on my shoulder. Or every time I get caught in public fishing food crumbs out of my cleavage. But this beats them all.

One of the earliest fertility tests they perform is a saline test, where they fill your uterus and Fallopian tubes with a saline solution to make sure there are no blockages affecting ovulation. My doctor had performed a similar test previously with dye and an x-ray, that had turned up a possible blockage and the saline test was expected to be more conclusive. Unlike the dye test, the saline test isn’t physically painful, just awkward.

I went in for my saline test on a warm day in September. The test went well – no blockage this time – and I was feeling good until I realized that I had forgotten the rules of gravity. What goes up must come down, which means that I would slowly be leaking clear saline for the foreseeable future.

Fortunately, the nurse had me covered. Unfortunately, that coverage was in the form of a maxi pad that was most certainly “maxi.” Two inches thick and as wide as a saddle. I was wearing a floor length sundress and the underwear I had chosen that day wasn’t likely up for such a big task. But I had no choice, so I stuck the pad in there, said a prayer and waddled out of the doctor’s office.

I had made plans to meet a friend for lunch, so I went to the restaurant right from the doctor’s office. We had lunch, did some shopping and I left for home in the late afternoon, stopping at Target on the way. Walking into Target, I realized I had to pee so I headed to the bathroom and picked my stall (one stall buffer always, ladies). About five seconds into my pee I realized something was wrong, and a moment later I realized with horror what it was.

The pad was not there.

As the gravity of what was happening hit me, I began to run down the possibilities. Is it stuck to the inside of my dress? Please let it be stuck to the inside of my dress. But it wasn’t. 

Did it fall out in the car? Nope. 

With the two least embarrassing options ruled out, the rest were mortifying. Is it in the parking lot of my doctor’s office? Is it under the table in the restaurant? Did it fall out as I was crossing the street in the middle of shopping? Did someone see it fall? DID EVERYONE SEE IT FALL? 

The only thing that would make it worse is if I had been aware of it when it happened, and I am eternally grateful that I wasn’t. I called my lunch friend to see if she had noticed anything.

“HAHAHAHAHAHAHAOMGHAHAHAHAHA,” was all she could say when I told her what had happened. I started laughing too, because the whole thing was absolutely ridiculous.

To this day I have no idea where it went. But if you were walking around Old Town Alexandria on a warm day in September 2012 and came across an abandoned maxi pad, it’s mine.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

When this journey began

We started our fertility process in August 2012, after 15 months of trying to get pregnant. We had already done some preliminary fertility testing, all of which came back inconclusive. I was diagnosed with “unexplained infertility,” which is a crappy diagnosis because you really have no answers. Basically, my uterus was being a total bitch.

Jack and I went to Shady Grove for our first appointment on a weekday morning. The first meeting with the doctors is to go over what testing you’ve done, analyze your situation and come up with a plan for moving forward. They also sit you down for a talk with their financial planners to go over what your insurance covers and what your particular treatment plan would cost you out of pocket. It’s a lot of information to get in just a couple of hours, and it’s incredibly overwhelming.

While they tell you ahead of time what you’ll go over in that first meeting, no one can prepare you for the emotional toll of hearing all of those words out loud. I have always been the girl who wanted kids, but sitting at that table in the financial planner’s office was the first time in my life that I began to doubt whether or not this was what I wanted. Tens of thousands of potential dollars spent, possibly with no result, the months to years of your life dedicated to the process and the mental and physical exhaustion you put your body through just to try, I began to wonder if it was worth it.

We drove home from that first meeting mostly silent, both of us trying to process everything that was just thrown at us. I pulled in the driveway, turned off the car and just sat there, neither one of us making a move to get out of the car.

“I don’t know if I want to do this,” I said.

It was the first time Jack had ever heard me question wanting a child, and he was shocked. Before that day, there was never a doubt for me that kids were in our future. But in that moment while trying to process what we had just learned, I wasn’t sure anymore.

Maybe this will sound silly, but when you’re trying naturally you tend not to really think about the actual having of the kid too much. It’s exciting and fun. But when you’re looking at spending a small fortune on a regimented medical process, it changes the way you look at the result. I started to ask myself questions, some of which made me feel like a terrible person. Did I really want to go through all of that just to have a kid? What if it doesn’t work? Is the universe trying to tell us something? What if we spend all that money and it does work but our child isn’t perfect?

And perhaps the biggest: Wouldn’t it be better to decide on your own to not have kids instead of letting the process decide that for you one day?

It was too much for me to handle at that moment and I broke down sobbing, still sitting in the car while Jack – going through his own emotional turmoil - searched for the words to make me feel better. And here’s the thing – when you’re going through fertility treatments there are very few “perfect” things for people to say. But Jack somehow found those perfect words.

“Listen, I want kids, but I don’t need them,” he said. “All I need in my life is you.”

That moment and those words reminded me that we had a good thing. It wasn’t like there was a baby-sized hole in our lives that needed filling. A kid would be a great addition, but if it wasn’t in the cards we could spend the rest of our lives traveling and growing our careers and enjoying all of the expendable income that childless couples have. No matter what, it was going to be ok.

I wish I could say that day was the worst of it – it wasn’t. The process is hard and heartbreaking and humiliating at times, and not everyone has such a strong support system in place. But sitting there in that car that day, hearing those words, I knew that we could handle it.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A new chapter

I set up this blog a few months ago to have a medium to entertain and interact with friends, family and readers in a different way. But, when you write for a living, it doesn’t always leave time to keep up with side projects. It looks like that’s going to change.

As most of you know, I’ve been writing for the Washington Post’s D.C. Sports Bog for the last two years. I’ve been under contract, and in December I was told that they were turning my position into an employee position. It would mean that I would be required to apply for my job, which at the time wasn’t a big deal.

Unfortunately, when the job description was sent out in January it was not for the job I currently hold. There were some fundamental changes and new requirements that I felt I could not successfully do while raising the infant that is due in May.

I’ve spent the last couple of months trying to work with the Post to stay on in some capacity, but it looks like that won’t be happening. My contract is up at the end of February, and I’ll be leaving the Post at that time.

I’m not sure what the next step will be yet (Ezra, call me maybe?). The goodbyes can wait for now. I’ll be with the Post until the end of the month, and you can always find me on Twitter, via email and in this space.